How can you know which gift(s) of the Spirit you have? There is a way.
Gifts of the Spirit
The Apostle Paul has written a lot about spiritual gifts. To begin with, he says that “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (1st Cor 12:4-6), and “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1st Cor 12:7). The first point is God is the One Who determines which gift is given to each person, and it is not for their own good but for the church’s sake, or “the common good.” Never are gifts given for the believer’s benefit, although it may help them develop spiritually, but they are intended for the Body of Christ. There are a “variety of activities” and “varieties of service,” but we must remember that it is God “empowers them all in everyone.” He deserves the glory for these gifts (Psalm 115:1), so both the gifts and the power are from God. We are, at best, an electrical cord…it is no good until it is plugged into something, and we must be connected to God by the Spirit, however, nothing will dampen a gift of the Spirit quicker than living in sin or being prideful. It is not we who are responsible for our gifts, but the Gift Giver. When we begin to elevate our gifts over the Giver of those gifts, then we’ve rendered our gifts useless to God. We might as well worship them! God resists the proud, but grace always flows downward to the humble (James 4:6).
There are other gifts of the Spirit, and it may be that some have more than one gift, but everyone who is born again has at least one gift. Paul says that “to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit” (1 Cor 12:8). For another it could be “faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:9), but notice that Paul repeats after each sentence that it is “by the one Spirit,” as if to remind us that it is all from God. I thing I’ve noticed is that when God dispenses His gifts, He has evenly distributed them throughout the Body of Christ. For example, there are not 15 teachers and no one with the gift of mercy. As Paul concludes, again he reminds the readers (and us) that it is “by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Cor 12:11). Paul thought this was worth repeating a few times, indicating it’s importance, saying it is as God wills and not man, and it is by One Spirit that He distributes these gifts, not we who do it. There is not even a hint that we can choose these gifts or pray for these gifts, or make God change His mind. God has not given everyone the same gifts (1 Cor 12:3), and He hasn’t made a mistake giving you the gift you have. Some think 1 Corinthians 14:1 says we can pray for spiritual gifts, but that’s not what it says. It only says, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” The word “earnestly” means sincerely, and the word “desire” simply means we should genuinely desire or have a passion for these spiritual gifts. It does not say we should earnestly pray for these gifts or some other gifts because we’re not happy with the gifts we have. Maybe God is telling us to genuinely desire the gifts you and I have for the Body of Christ…and not to covet other people’s gifts. God knows best which gifts go with each of us…better than we do. Remember, Scripture says that it is at God’s discretion, so He knows which gifts fit best with whom.
First Corinthians 12 is not the only place where Paul mentions gifts of the spirit. There are other gifts like teaching, exhortation, giving, and mercy (Rom 12:6-8), but these may not be all the gifts there are. I know some people who do things that are not listed under any gift. That’s because God’s Spirit is not limited. He can move in many different ways through many different people by gifting, but it is God’s choice, and it is intended for the building up of the church. Remember that “just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:12-13). Other gifts include the gifts of administration (1 Cor 12), Teaching, (Romans12; Ephesians 4), Helps and Service (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12), Hospitality (1 Peter 4:9-10), Leadership (Romans 12), and possibly more than these. Paul wants us to recognize the source of the gifts, but also that it is the Giver Who determines which gift(s) are given to which person. As the Scripture says, “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose” (1 Cor 12:18).
Having been asked numerous times how someone can know what gift they have, I say just jump into something and you’ll know in your spirit whether it’s right or not. I like asking them, “If you didn’t have to work for a living, what one thing would you most desire to do if you had the time and the means?” This may point to their giftedness. What’s their passion about? What is the “one thing” they would like to change or help make a difference in? That may be a clue as to what a person has a gift in. There are numerous ways to tell which gift of the Spirit you have, but I know not all teachers make good preachers, and not all preachers make good teachers. If they’re not gifted in that area, they will usually find that out in time…or from others. Time, chance, circumstances…all these things can work together into a “perfect storm,” and somehow, you’ll just know. Like Eric Liddell, the runner in Chariots of Fire, he felt God’s pleasure when he ran. By the way, he also said, “We are all missionaries. Wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or we repel them from Christ.”  Amen!
I hope you find your gift, or if you’ve already discovered your gift of the Spirit, I hope you find a place to utilize that gift for the church’s benefit. Perhaps God will bless that church because of the gift you have. When many members come together with various gifts of the Spirit, the whole Body can function better, and that makes the Head’s job much easier…the Head of the Church, being Jesus Christ. Jesus as the Head desires the Body cooperate with Him, and if they would engage their spiritual gifts for the benefit of the church, it would do no harm for the Body and it’s functioning as the hands, feet, eyes, ears, mouth, and heart of Christ. We do this for others (Matt 25:35-36), but make no mistake about it, we are actually doing it unto Him (Matt 25:40). In those few short verses, we can see how the gifts of the Spirit can reach out to a hurting world and show the love of Christ. It is by our love for one another that all people will know who Jesus’ disciples are (John 13:34-35). Jesus disciples do what He says, not just hear His words. Our precious Lord warns all who would listen (or read), “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 7:21). “Doing” is evidence of Lordship. The “many” who cry out, “Lord, Lord,” will be the same many that will forever be turned away. Make you calling and election sure (2 Pet 1:10). Get this right. Be certain. Be certain before the day is out (2 Cor 6:2). Tomorrow may be too late (Heb 9:27; Rev 1:7, 20:12-15).
1. Eric Liddell Quotes. Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/802465.Eric_Liddell [Accessed Feb 17,2019].
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Christian Crier or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.